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Publication numberUS2747671 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 29, 1956
Filing dateOct 5, 1951
Priority dateOct 5, 1951
Publication numberUS 2747671 A, US 2747671A, US-A-2747671, US2747671 A, US2747671A
InventorsFischer Paul W, Nowak Theodore J
Original AssigneeUnion Oil Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Treatment of oil-bearing formations
US 2747671 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent O TREATMENT OF OIL-BEARIN G FORMATIONS Theodore J. Nowak, Whittier, and Paul W. Fischer, East Whittier, Califl, assignors to Union Oil Company of iPalifornia, Los Angeles, Calif., a corporation or" latiorma No Drawing. Application October 5, 1951,

Serial No. 250,026

7 Claims. (Cl. 166-33) This invention relates generally to a method for the treatment and selective blocking of water-bearing sands which are located within or near an oil-producing formation. More particularly, this invention relates to a method 2,747,671 Patented May 29, 1956 ity of the sand to oil flow. According to the invention, a solution of one or more of certain cellulose derivatives and one or more of certain alkyl silicates in an organic solvent is injected into the sand. After the solu- 5 tion is removed by any suitable means, such as by the Cellulose has a complex organic structure consisting 15 of a plurality of chemically combined d-glucose units,

each unit having the empirical formula CsHmOs. The following structure has been tentatively assigned to the cellulose molecule:

for the selective plugging of water sands whereby the permeability of the sand to water flow is decreased to a greater extent than the permeability to oil flow.

Many processes have been devised for the plugging of oil-bearing formations in an attempt to plug and seal off the water-bearing strata Whilemaintaining the oil-bearing strata open for the free flow of oil. In general, such processes have not proved altogether satisfactory owing to a general lack of selectivity. Thus, in the case of cementing, the liquid cement normally enters all formations indiscriminately and is equally effective in permanently plugging both the oil strata and the water strata.

The present invention is based upon the discovery that solutions comprising certain cellulose derivatives and certain alkyl silicates can be pumped into a bore hole and thence into the formation whence the permeability of the sand to water flow is selectively decreased relative to the permeability of the sand to oil flow. Furthermore, these plugging solutions are generally oil-dispersible and generally produce precipitates upon appreciable dilution with water. The precipitate forms a permanent plug with respect to the aqueous phase in the formation, but it may be dispersed in additional treating solution or mixtures of oil and treating solution.

It is therefore an object of this invention to plug preferentially the water-bearing strata of an oil-bearing formation.

It is another object of this invention to inject solutions comprising certain cellulose derivatives and certain alkyl silicates into an oil-bearing formation, which solutions tend to be oil-dispersible and tend to precipitate upon mixing with water.

It is another object of this invention to treat an oilbearing sand with a solution comprising a cellulose derivative and an alkyl silicate in an organic solvent, remove the excess solution by fluid flow, and thereby decrease the permeability of the treated sand to water flow to a greater extent percentagewise than the corresponding permeability of the sand to oil flow.

Other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art as the description thereof proceeds.

Briefly, this invention relates to a method for the selective reduction of the permeability of a sand to water flow relative to the reduction of corresponding permeabil- The three hydroxyl groups of each d-glucose unit may be converted into cellulose derivatives according to the conventional reactions of alcohols. It is customary to refer to the average conversion of the three hydroxyl groups in terms of degree of substitution wherein a value of 1 indicates that on the average only one of the three hydroxyl groups is substituted. The theoretical maximum degree of substitution is 3.

In the cellulose derivatives employed in this invention 5 the CH2OH or =CHOH groups are reacted so that the -OH radical is replaced with a nitrate group as in ONO2, or with an ether linkage as in OR or with an ester linkage as in -OCO-R. In the foregoing formulae, R is generally an alkyl or alkenyl radical having not more than 4 carbon atoms. R is preferably an alkyl group, however. Thus, R may be a methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl, isobutyl, vinyl, allyl, crotyl, or the like. The preferred cellulose ether for this invention is an ethyl cellulose.

The cellulose derivatives employed in this invention are soluble in organic solvents such as alcohols, ketones, esters, ethers, acids, aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, or mixtures of such solvents and the like. Such cellulose derivatives are generally insoluble in water and are generally precipitated from the organic solvent upon the addition of water.

The preferred solvents for the cellulose derivatives include the lower molecular weight alcohols and ketones such as those having fewer than about 6 carbon atoms. In order to reduce the cost of such solvents they may be, and preferably are, mixed with less expensive liquid hydrocarbons so as to form solvent mixtures containing from about 0 to 75% of the hydrocarbon. Hydrocarbons which may be employed for this purpose include gasoline, kerosene, aromatic hydrocarbons and the like.

The solubility characteristics of the cellulose derivatives depend upon the degree of substitution which in turn varies according to the nature of the substitution.

5 Where the cellulose derivative is a cellulose nitrate (nitro- 0 Methyl celluloses which may be employed in this invention have a degree of substitution between about 2.6 and 2.9. Degrees of substitution for other cellulose ethers include the following: ethyl cellulose between about 2.0 and 2.9, propyl cellulose between about 1.5 and 219, and butyl or isobutyl celluloses between about 1.0 and 2.9. In the ease of cellulose ethers other than methyl, it is generally preferable that the degree of substitution be in the range of between about 2.2 to 2.9.

Cellulose esters such as cellulose acetate, cellulose propionate, cellulose butyrate, and the like, are customarily prepared by substantially complete esterification of the cellulose followed by a subsequent partial hydrolysis. Increasing hydrolysis produces products with increasingly limited solubility in water and progressively increased solubility in organic solvents. For purposes of 'this invention the cellulose derivatives may either be prepared by esterification to a degree of substitution insufiieient to produce water solubility while suflicient to produce solubility in organic solvents, such as in ethyl alcohol, acetone and the like, or such cellulose derivatives may be produced by a substantially complete esterification of the cellulose followed by a partial hydrolysis to a degree of substitution which minimizes the water solubility. Among the cellulose esters, the preferred composition is a cellulose acetate. The esters to be employed in this invention will generally have a degree of substitution between about 1.5 and 2.5.

The alkyl silicates which are employed in conjunction with the aforementioned cellulose derivatives are those having less than five carbon atoms in the alkyl group, i. e.. methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl Silicates. Ethyl silicate is preferred. The presence of the silicate decreases the -oil dispersibility of the cellulose derivative which is precipitated within the formation, but renders such precipitate highly permanent with respect to dislodgemcnt by water flow.

The treating solutions of this invention are prepared by dissolving 'any of the aforementioned described cel lulose derivatives and alkyl silicates in a'suitable organic solvent. Suitable organic solvents include alcohols such as methy, ethyl, propyl, isopropyl, butyl, isobutyl, amyl, isoamyl and the like. Ketones which may be employed include acetone, methyl ethyl ketonc, diethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone and the like. Ethers which may be employed include diethyl ether, methyl propyl ether, and the like. Other organic solvents which may be employed include dioxane, pyridine, benzene, toluene, xylene, and hydrocarbon fractions such as gasoline, kerosene, gas oil, and the like.

in general, the organic solution will contain between about 0.5 and 10%, and preferably between about 1 and by weight of the cellulose derivative, and between about 0.5 and preferably between about 1 and 5 by weight of the alkyl silicate.

In certain cases, additional components may be advantageously employed to vary the nature of the plugging composition and improve its adhesive and plugging character. Usually between about 0.1 to 5%, and preferably between about 0.4 and 3%, by weight of these other components is employed.

Natural and/or synthetic oil-soluble resins are examples of such additional components. A particularly suitable synthetic resin is the mixture of polymers obtained from the polymerization of beta-pinene. Other synthetic resins which may be employed include polymers of butadiene, pentadiene, methyl pentadiene, styrene, acrylic acid, acrylic acid esters, acrylonitrile,and the like, or mixtures thereof. Other materials which may be added include dihydroabietyl maleate.

In other casesrosin acid and rosin acid soaps may be incorporated in the treating solution as an additional component. Usually between about 0.1 and 5% by weight of the rosin acid and/or rosin acid soap is normally employedand preferably between about 0.4 and 2% 'byweight. The soaps are usually prepared in the form of an alkali metal soap -'of the rosin acid.

The term rosinacid is employed to denote b'oth gum and wood rosins and also derivatives of such rosins such as are obtained by hydrogenation, dehydrogenation, disproportionation, decarboxylation, isomerization, polymerization, or combinations of such processes. Such methods of modifying gum and wood resins are well known in the art. The rosin or modified rosin may also be fractionated as by solvent extraction to produce various acidic fractions which may be employed in this invention.

A particularly suitable rosin soap is obtained from those acids obtained by the disproportionation of ordinary rosin. The natural rosin is contacted with an active hydrogenation catalyst in the absence of added hydrogen at an elevated temperature until it contains at least about 40% of dehydroabietic acid and less than about 1% of abietic acid. Upon distillation, the disproportionated rosin may be separated into a plurality of cuts. The middle fraction, ranging from 50% to is the preferred acid for the preparation of rosin soaps for employment in this invention.

The middle cut of distilled 'dehydrogenated or disproportionated rosin is converted into an alkali metal salt by-neutralization with an alkali metal compound, basic in nature. Among the alkali compounds suitable for this reaction are the hydroxides, carbonates, etc., of lithium, sodium, potassium, etc.

The treating solutions of this invention may be introduced into the formation by any of the established techniques for injecting fluids into strata surrounding bore holes. Since the solution precipitates upon mixing with water it is generally preferable, if not even necessary, to remove any water from the bore hole itself. One method consists of preceding the injection of. the treating solution with the injection of an organic solvent having appreciable oil and water solubilities, e. g. methanol, ethanol, acetone and the like. Where it is desired to spot the solution into particular strata, the remaining strata may be blocked suitably by packers.

After the solution is introduced it is generally displaced subsequently by formation fluids and/or precipitated thereby. The fluid displacement and/or precipitation generally occurs as a natural consequence of putting the well on production.

The permeability of a sand or other porous media is determined by Darcy's Law:

,Qfl i K T A A 21 10 wherein,

K is the permeability in millidarcies (md.)

Qis the fluid flow in cubic centimeters (cm.) T-is thetime in seconds L is'the core thickness in centimeters (cm.)

A is the core area in square centimeters (sq. cm.) M is the viscosity'in centipoises AP isthe incremental pressure in atmospheres It is found that when one of the hereinabove described treating solutions is contacted with oil-bearing and waterbearing sands of substantially the same permeability such treatment selectively deereasesthe water permeability to a considerably greater extent than the oil permeability is decreased. This phenomemon is illustrated by the data set forth in the following example:

Example I 'Pairs of cores having substantially the same permeabilities in the rangenear 800 md. were selected for testing. A simulated oil-bearing formation was prepared by treating one of the cores with water containing about 3% salt and thereafter passing oil through the core until the water content of the core was no longer reduced. The oil employed .was a kerosene fraction boiling between about 350 F. and525" .F. A simulated water-producing formation was prepared by saturating the other core with' water containing 3 salt.

The next step of each experiment consisted in determining the permeability of the oil-saturated core to oil flow and the permeability of the Water-saturated core to Water flow. In the third step, approximately 10 pore volumes of the treating solution was flowed through each core while the core was maintained at substantially 135 F. In the fourth step of the procedure the core containing the treating solution was allowed to set for about 24 hours at room temperature. In the fifth step the The foregoing disclosure of this invention is not to be considered as limiting since many variations may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit or scope of the following claims.

We claim:

1. The method of differentially shutting off water in an oil Well penetrating both oiland water-bearing formations which comprises forcing down the well and into said formation a plugging composition comprising an organic treated core was flushed with a backflow of approximately solvent having dissolved therein between about 0.5 and 250 pore volumes of fluid, water being employed to backflbflllt 10 P Cent y Welght of a Water-{11591111316 6611111056 flow the water-saturated core and ke o e e being derivative selected from the class consisting of cellulose ployed to backfiow the oil-saturated core. During the nitrate, cellulose ethers of alcohols containing less than backflow a pressure drop of approximately 110 p. s. i. live carbon atoms and cellulose esters of acids containper inch of core length was employed. The final step ing less than five carbon atoms, between about 0.1 and Procedure conslsted of l'edetermlnlng the P about 5 per cent by weight of an alkyl silicate, the alkyl pl y Of eachtreated core- The dficrease Qf P group of which contains less than five carbon atoms and bility of the oil-saturated core to oil flow and of the between about Q1 and about 5 per cent by Weight of an waer'samratedd f water flow i dletermmefd oilsoluble resin; allowing the formation fluids to act 9 compare.. 0 e ermme any Se ectlvlty' n upon said composition, whereby said formations are instances add1t1onal backfiow was employed to determine rendfimd less ermeable to Water flow tha to oil flow if additional improvement might result from additional d h f P h d 1 n flushing. In some cases it was found that the selectivity an t F ter removing unc ange p uggmg compo Ion increased as the result of additional flushing. In no case from Sald did additional backflow decrease the selectivity of the ll l flf 1 Wherem the cellulose treatment, ative 1s a ce u ose e er.

The compositions tested and the test results obtained The Process f Claim 1 W n h llul s d livthereon are reported in Table l as follows: ative is ethyl cellulose.

Table 1 Experiment No 1 2 3 4 5 6 Composition, Percent by Wt:

Ethyl Cellulose 11.0 2 s 2.8 2 8 Cellulose Acetate 5. 9 Acetone 61.2 27.6 28.5 Isopflopanol 32 9 89.0 28.3 27.8 3.11 l n Kerosene 66.1 64.5 64.5 66.3 Beta-pinene Res 2.8 2. 7 2.8 Ethyl Silicate 5.0 2. 3 2 4 Permeability after Treatment, Percent of Original Permeability:

Oil-bearing Core (X) 38 44 64 101 65 a 41 Water-bearing Core (Y) 3 0. 6 20 68 7 IL8 Ratio, X/Y 12.7/1 73.4/1 3.2/1 1.5/1 9.3/1 5.1

1 Original permeability= 300 Ind. Melting point=207 1?.

Examination of these data show that compositions 4. The process of claim 1 wherein the alkyl silicate which consist only of a cellulose derivative and a single is ethyl silicate. or mixed solvent (Experiments Nos. 1 and 2), while 5. The process of claim 1 wherein the organic solvent they are highly selective in that they reduce the permeis a mixture comprising at least 25 per cent by volume of ability of the water-bearing core to a much greater exa liquid selected from the class consisting of alcohols tent than they reduce the permeability of the oil-bearing and ketones containing less than six carbon atoms, the core, they nevertheless reduce the permeability of the remainder being a hydrocarbon oil. oil-bearing core by considerably greater than 50%. Ex- 6. The process of claim 1 wherein the cellulose derivperiment 3 shows that the addition of a resin to the ative is ethyl cellulose having a degree of substitution cellulose derivative solution effects some improvement inbetween about 2.0 and about 2.9, and the alkyl silicate is sofar as overall reduction in the permeability of the oilethyl silicate. bearing core is concerned, but greatly reduces the selec- 7. The process of claim 1 wherein the oil-soluble resin tivity of the composition. Experiment 4 shows that an i polymerized beta-Dinette. alkyl silicate in the absence of a cellulose derivative is without substantial eifect on the permeability of the oil- References Clted 111 the file 0f t111$ Patent bearing core, but has very low selectivity. Experiment 5, UNITED STATES P ATENTS however, shows thata combmatlon of a cellulose der1va- 2,034,347 Loomis et a1 M an 17, 1936 tive and an alkyl slllcate in accordance with the present 2,265,962 Bent et al Dec. 9, 1941 invention has good selectivity but at the same time does 2,338,799 Buckley et a1 Jan. 11, 1944 not cause too great a reduction in the permeability of 2,366,036 Leverett et a1. Dec. 26, 1944 the o1l-bear1ng core. In Experiment 6, the relatively 2 375 753 c1 are May 15, 1945 large reducuon 1n the permeabllity of the oil-bearing 2,379,974 Little July 10, 1945 core can be attnbuted to the fact that the core employed d h a1 bil-t f 1 2,404,033 Burrell July 16, 1945 was y 6115c, avmg all 0118111 Permea y 0 2,544,247 Asafl Man 6 1951 than 300 md.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2034347 *Jan 29, 1935Mar 17, 1936Gulf Res & Dev CorpMethod of treating wells
US2265962 *Sep 9, 1936Dec 9, 1941Shell DevMethod of treating oil and gas wells
US2338799 *Mar 20, 1943Jan 11, 1944Standard Oil Dev CoMethod for selectively plugging water sands
US2366036 *Nov 21, 1941Dec 26, 1944Standard Oil Dev CoProducing oil
US2375753 *Nov 26, 1942May 15, 1945Hercules Powder Co LtdCoating composition
US2379974 *May 1, 1943Jul 10, 1945Hercules Powder Co LtdCellulosic lacquer
US2404033 *Feb 3, 1943Jul 16, 1946Heyden Chemical CorpA cellulose ester composition containing a rosin ester and the method of preparing said rosin ester
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2946383 *Dec 28, 1956Jul 26, 1960Pan American Petroleum CorpShutting off water in wells
US3023201 *Oct 26, 1955Feb 27, 1962Phillips Petroleum CoProcess for removal of catalyst from hydrogenated polymer solutions
US3051236 *Dec 30, 1958Aug 28, 1962Texaco IncTreating underground formations
US3078920 *Jan 26, 1959Feb 26, 1963Texaco IncTreating underground formations
US3087543 *Jan 27, 1960Apr 30, 1963Jersey Prod Res CoMethod for improving oil-water ratios of oil and gas wells
US3134436 *Oct 13, 1958May 26, 1964Dow Chemical CoComposition for use in well treatment
US4660640 *Feb 1, 1985Apr 28, 1987Mobil Oil CorporationEnhanced oil recovery
US4785883 *Dec 10, 1986Nov 22, 1988Mobil Oil CorporationPolysilicate esters for oil reservoir permeability control
U.S. Classification166/295, 106/177.1, 106/169.17, 106/170.2
International ClassificationC09K8/56
Cooperative ClassificationC09K8/56
European ClassificationC09K8/56